A photograph shows the roof of an industrial museum lined with solar panels

New NEMO report outlines seven ways museums can fight climate change

Based on a survey of over 500 museums across Europe, the Network of European Museum Organisations has published a new report with accompanying recommendations

Seven new recommendations have been made by the Network of European Museum Organisations (NEMO), with a view to helping policy makers and the museums sector to fight climate change and reduce their environmental impact.

The recommendations are based on a survey that was answered by 578 museums from 38 European countries between April and June 2022. There were 22 respondents from the UK

The recommendations have been made alongside a full report, which it said reflects the status quo of European museums on their way to sustainable operations in the climate crisis.

UK NEMO members include Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, Glasgow Museums, Museums Association, and The Victoria and Albert Museum.

The organisation said museums “must collectively advocate and adapt to this unequalled challenge.

“If prioritized and supported adequately, museums can be powerful partners in the sustainable, just and green transformation of Europe.”

The survey reports that of 531 respondents, 35.2% had a person or team looking at climate-related or sustainable development activities. The majority either did not, or did not know.

The data also suggests that almost 60% of respondents believe the main cause for impeded sustainable transition is a lack of funds.

This feedback aligns with the second most reported impediment, the lack of support from public administration or policy direction (38.8%).

NEMO’s seven recommendations that have been derived from the survey data:

1. Policy Coherence

Increase communication between governing and funding bodies and museums, encouragecooperation and develop cohesive, comprehensive frameworks for museum work.

2. Relevance

Acknowledge and support the potential of museums as allies to help the public better understand climate change and become active.

3. Infrastructure

Facilitate funds for investments in the infrastructure of museums, so that buildings can be maintained in a more energy-efficient, ecological and sustainable manner. Financial support should be streamlined and coupled with financial relief in consideration of the current energy crisis impacting museums across Europe.

4. Frameworks and Guidance

Ensure that guidelines, standards and reporting requirements reflect all aspects of museum work and are aligned to support sustainable goals.

5. Risk Awareness

Invest in future citizens’ sustained access to European shared heritage by funding and encouraging risk assessment, adaptation and mitigation for museums.

6. Alliances

Fund global, cross-sector, climate-focused networks and umbrella organisations that address and enable mutual sharing of skills, knowledge, and expertise – supporting and empowering the sector to address climate change.

7. Skills and Training

Allocate financial support to upskill and train staff to contribute to the museums’ sustainable transition and to support society’s just transition.

In the report, Henry McGhie of Liverpool-based museums and heritage consultancy Curating Tomorrow writes: “In order to contribute meaningfully to climate actions, museums and those setting the framework for their activity, must commit to climate action goals, value these goals and be held to account when they don’t achieve them.”

The full report can be read here.